Democratic lawmakers in Pennsylvania walked out of a House committee hearing Tuesday on a proposal to impeach Attorney General Kathleen Kane over what a Republican lawmaker alleges as “misbehavior in office,” including refusing to defend the state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples in court.
GOP Chairman of the House State Government Committee Rep. Daryl Metcalfe ordered the sergeant at arms to remove Rep. Michael O’Brien, a Philadelphia Democrat, after a heated exchange over O’Brien’s motion to adjourn the hearing — a motion Metcalfe would not allow to be heard. As the guards approached, the Democrats stood and left the room, with O’Brien saying, “Happy kangaroo court, pal.”
“Chairman Metcalfe threatened to have [O’Brien] removed, which I don’t think he has the authority to do,” Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, told BuzzFeed. “Metcalfe’s publicity stunt was going as planned, and Dems didn’t want to take a part in it.”
Metcalfe’s proposal comes as an amendment to a House resolution that was originally introduced by Rep. Mark Cohen, D-Philadelphia, to honor Kane as the first woman to serve as the state’s attorney general. Cohen and other sponsors of the bill have since withdrawn the resolution, which O’Brien said brings the question of what Metcalfe is seeking to amend. Cohen, too, attempted to adjourn the committee, but his motion narrowly failed 10-11.
In terms of procedures in the legislature, Metcalfe had no authority to hold the impeachment hearing, O’Brien said.
“It’s grandstanding, it’s advancing his own political agenda,” O’Brien said. “It’s sort of like with Obama. She’s the first Democrat elected as attorney general, she’s a woman, and she was a highest vote getter in that election with 3 million votes, and they simply don’t want to recognize her. It’s just hard to prove she was born in Kenya.”
Metcalfe has, for months, pushed to impeach Attorney General Kathleen Kane, saying she violated her oath of office as well as her “constitutional, statutory, and ethical duties” in refusing to defend the state’s ban on legal marriages for same-sex couples in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union last summer.
The committee heard testimony from a handful of witnesses invited to the panel, who criticized Kane’s decision to close an investigation launched under her predecessor into Democratic lawmakers who allegedly received bribes and gifts as well as promoting her sister to post in her office.
O’Brien said he referred to the hearing as a “kangaroo court” because the witnesses have histories of pushing “far-right” politics. “Only one side of the issue was presented,” he added.
Kane was not invited to speak at the hearing. In October, she issued a statement in response to Metcalfe’s call for impeachment, saying, “Rep. Metcalfe’s goals of media attention and political gamesmanship are accomplished through loud, arrogant and misguided claims. … “It is unfortunate that Rep. Metcalfe has such little respect for the people of Pennsylvania.”
No vote was taken on the amendment.
Metcalfe previously attempted to impeach Kane, but that resolution stalled in the House Judiciary Committee last year. In order for Kane to be impeached, the amendment would have to be approved in committee and then by the full House and then, If passed by the House, the Senate would have to convict Kane in a trial. Some lawmakers say this is unlikely.
“It’s going nowhere,” Sims said.
BuzzFeed has called Metcalfe’s office for comment.